Rick Hendrick recalls signing the 14-year-old Chase Elliott after veteran Cup Series team owner James Finch suggested him the driver.
Elliott recently participated in Snowball Derby Super Late Model race for the first time in five years. The event is one that Elliott cherishes as it is where Rick Hendrick first came to notice of the promising 14-year-old driver.
After seeing Elliott race in the event, Finch called Hendrick to check out the driver and sign the second-generation racer to a development contract.
“James Finch asked me if I had seen Chase Elliott drive. And I said ‘no,’ and he told me I needed to. Because he’s whipping all these guys on pavement,” Hendrick recalls.
Being a son of a NASCAR legend might have helped, but Elliott possessed all the skills needed to become successful in racing since his early years in racing.
Having already seen him won the Snowball Derby, Hendrick started looking for more information regarding the young driver back then.
“So, I started getting some videos, and then I called Bill, and they came down and we talked.”
“I just watched him in those Super Late Models and then actually saw one of the races where he raced Kyle Busch and just thought so much of how Bill raised him and what a polished young guy was. You could see the talent and thought, ‘he may be 14-years-old, but we need to take a chance if we could.”
Elliott has already rewarded Hendrick’s faith with a championship win in his relatively young Cup Series career. He will certainly be challenging for a number of championships in the years to come by.